Jets watching what they say as they begin preparing for the undefeated Patriots Print
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Monday, 10 December 2007 14:18
NFL Headline News

 HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Laveranues Coles needed a quick lesson on the recent history of bad blood between the Jets and Patriots.
A day after New York lost to Cleveland, the questions Monday were naturally focused on the Jets' next game at undefeated New England. Coles was asked how the spying scandal after their Week 1 matchup might have motivated the Patriots to maul their opponents this season.
He pondered the question for a second and then gave a quizzical look.
``What is 'Spygate?''' the veteran wide receiver asked, and, yes, with a straight face.
When given the basics of the incident - a Patriots employee was caught by the Jets filming New York's sideline - Coles was still puzzled.
``To be honest, I don't know anything about it,'' he said, ``so it doesn't mean anything to me personally.''
Either Coles hasn't read a paper or watched TV this season, or he's the best actor on the team. And that's saying a lot, considering safety Kerry Rhodes has already appeared in a few films and coach Eric Mangini made a cameo appearance on ``The Sopranos.''
All the Jets (3-10) were careful in their comments, determined not to provide any bulletin board fodder the way Steelers safety Anthony Smith did last week when he guaranteed a win.
``I think our coach keeps us pretty much in check when it comes to things like that, so you don't have to worry about anybody in this locker room saying anything that's locker-room board material,'' Coles said. ``That's just not us. That's not the way guys are in this locker room. I think we keep a tight hold on guys pretty much around here to let them know not to step out of line.''
It's not as though the Patriots (13-0) need any extra motivation, not when they're playing the Jets. The teams have harbored ill feelings toward each other dating to the days when Bill Parcells left New England for New York. It only increased when Bill Belichick resigned as Jets coach after a day and took the job with the Patriots instead.
After helping Belichick and the Patriots win three Super Bowls as an assistant, Mangini left to become coach of the Jets. The relationship between the two has been frosty since, and only got chillier after the Jets reported the Patriots' rule-breaking in Week 1. The NFL took away New England's first-round draft pick, fined the team $250,000 and fined Belichick another $500,000.
Some have speculated that was the spark that fueled the Patriots' run toward history.
``It's been impressive to see them, even though they're in our division and are foes of ours,'' Rhodes said. ``To see a team playing this well, you can only applaud them.''
It's safe to say there won't be any cheering for the Patriots from the Jets' sideline Sunday. New York has struggled through a dismal season, and was installed as a 27-point opening-line underdog. That number shrunk to 24 on Monday.
``From those numbers alone, we don't stand a chance,'' Rhodes said with a grin. ``That's outside of this locker room. We don't feel that way. We feel that we can play with anybody on any given day. I'm sure anybody in the league would say the same thing.''
Mangini was peppered with questions about his relationship with Belichick and the Patriots, as well as his thoughts on Spygate. Predictably, he didn't bite - at all.
``You know, I've said how I felt about Bill many times and, really, it hasn't changed from the first time we played each other,'' Mangini said. ``I have a lot of respect for him and he did a lot of things for me and has helped me significantly throughout my career to develop. That hasn't changed one bit for me.''
Mangini wouldn't say if he thinks those feelings have been reciprocated by Belichick, but acknowledged the two haven't spoken since their last game. Mangini also sidestepped numerous questions about the Spygate incident, and was asked if he wouldn't report it if he had it to do all over again.
``As I've said, I've really said everything I can say about this,'' he said. ``It's a league matter and it's in the past. We're moving forward.''
For the players, that means going up against one of the most dominant teams in NFL history. The Patriots are 54 points from breaking Minnesota's mark of 556, set in 1998. Quarterback Tom Brady is five touchdown passes away from topping Peyton Manning's record of 49, and Randy Moss is four TD receptions from surpassing Jerry Rice's single-season mark of 22.
The Jets can only hope those records aren't set against them at Foxborough on Sunday.
``I know people are trying to put a lot of emphasis on the fact of what they're doing, but again, they're doing it. It's not us doing it,'' Coles said. ``There isn't really much we can say or do anything about what they're doing. We can only go out and control what we do.''
 

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